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~てもらう without explicit agents

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by John_Doe, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. John_Doe Senior Member


    I'm having difficulties interpretating this sentence:

    Logically, the rich Centre sends its money to the poor South. Thus the latter is able to buy provisions and other stuff for itself. Simple as that. However, ~te morau looks like a useless appendage.
    Grammatically, "XはZをYに買ってもらっている" means "X has Y buy Z (for X)". In this case, the Central sends money and buys food for the South at the same time? What's happened to そのお金で?

    Both ways of reasoning cannot fully account for this ~te morau. It seems I am still not good at understanding ~te morau unless it is used in a textbook or a dictionary example sentence.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  2. Tonky Senior Member

    It means that the poor South buys food from the rich Centre with the money the rich Centre gives.

    ""PersonA Has PersonB do ~ (for PersonA)" basically means "PersonB does ~ for PersonA".
    Y buys Z for X. or Y buys X Z.
    Taro bought Hanako some flowers. / Taro bought some flowers for Hanako.

    I hope this makes sense.
  3. John_Doe Senior Member

    Makes sense, indeed. After all, these poor countries might not have their own means to produce food, so they need buy it from someone else anyway. In other words: 中央は南部に金を送る。 中央は南部に中央の食べ物を買ってもらう。 Is it right interpretation?

    However, in this case Taro from the South buys flowers for his own aesthetic needs, and Hanako from the Centre is sort of a flower shop owner who makes a profit thanks to Taro, right? It's a completely different story.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  4. Tonky Senior Member


    Aww, actually, I had 花子 as a flower seller in mind, but you are correct. Yes it is a completely different story.
  5. Tonky Senior Member

    Let me add a bit of explanation.
    ~てもらう is talking about receiving some form of benefits.
    花子は太郎に花を買ってもらった could mean both "Taro bought Hanako flowers to give her (for Hanako)" and "Taro bought flowers from Hanako (for Hanako)", and it is up to the context which it should mean, but both actions are in favor of Hanako. ~てもらう does not necessarily talk about where the material mentioned goes to, but most importantly who receives the benefit.

    中央諸国は南部諸王国に義捐金を送ってそのお金でものや食べ物を買ってもらってる also works the same, even though it does not mean that the South buys it to give it to the Centre.
    The Centre aids money to the South, and have the South buy food and stuff from the Centre for the Centre, using the money. The action of "buying food and stuff with the money given" benefits the Centre.

    We usually call this type of aid "ひもつき援助", Tied aid in English, which is often a major target of criticism on Japanese ODA.
  6. John_Doe Senior Member

    Thank you for clearing the things up as you ever do.

    I wonder why even reference books never mention there's a crucial ambiguity in meaning.

    If you wouldn't mind, there's another mind-blowing usage of -te morau.

    The line is said by a demon about humans straying into his turf. The assumption that an ignorant human would kill himself for the demon's benefit is out of question. Or not? :)
  7. YangMuye Senior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    Thinking ~してもらう as “someone require/ask someone else to do something as a favor” might help you a little. It's a little similar to させる.

    ~してもらう is sometimes used as a slightly polite way to say please do (literally, I beg you to do).
    It literally translates to “I will let lost humans die”, but actually the same as “迷い込んだ人間はそっくり死ね/死んでくれ”.
  8. Tonky Senior Member

    Basically, the line implies that this demon wants humans dead. So, those humans who drop by (as a result of getting lost) will be killed for the demon's benefit/desire.

    Ah, yes, you could say that too, but ~てくれ gives a very different impression and a different shade of meaning in Japanese as てくれ asks as a favor, like "please die for me", instead of announcing it as "I'll kill you (as I want)" or "I'll have you dead (as I want)".
  9. John_Doe Senior Member

    Since the topic is about ~てもらう anyway, I'll ask another question here.

    The protagonist arrives at the full-scale battlefield. He is supposed to turn tables on the enemy, so his arriving is very reassuring for good guys. And then someone petty from the enemy position says this out loud: 始まるか...さて俺は選んで頂けるかどうか. Then the chapter ends.

    I wouldn't have asked about the meaning if I hadn't come across English translations (actually, two of them). The line was translated as "Do I have a chance or not?". And I thought that I am still a novice, and these guys had their reasons to translate it like that... Doesn't it actually mean that the speaker awaits someone's decision (choice) to be made, which could be favourable for the speaker? And 頂ける suggests that this "someone" is superior to the speaker.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  10. Tonky Senior Member

    I'm sorry, but I couldn't quite catch the context from your explanation. If the following does not fit, then that is probably because I did not understand the situation at all.

    Anyways, "Do I have a chance?" sounds like an okay translation to me, to have a chance "to get chosen or not" (to fight? or whatever he is awaiting for). It may be a bit confusing as if he is saying to have a chance to win or not, though.
    That 頂ける sounds like the speaker is trying to be sarcastic, and this "someone" does not have to be someone superior.
  11. John_Doe Senior Member

    It's no wonder, because what was meant by this line is anybody's guess. We just know what triggered it -- the protagonist's arrival. I'm just curious about how it "works" grammatically.

    At least, 頂ける suggest involvement of someone else and it's this "someone" who actually makes a choice, right? Like "Will I be chosen (by... for...)?".
  12. Tonky Senior Member

    I really do not understand what is disturbing you to understand this grammatically, as I've seen how well you understood all the other complicated things so far. ~ていただく is the same as ~てもらう but simply in higher level of politeness and える(もらえる/いただける) giving the potential that must have led to the translation of "have a chance". (If he is waiting to fight this hero, maybe more like "Do I get to fight him?" or "Would he choose me to fight?", wanting to fight him himself.)

    I'd better leave it up to someone else who understands the situation and your question. It's very hard to see it with the available info. Sorry about that :(
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  13. John_Doe Senior Member

    There's another question about morau.

    The situation is this. A bunch of criminals is planning to rob the protagonists of their possessions, and the following conversation occurs:
    — そっちは二人、お願い。金を巻け上げるだけでいいわ。
    — あのビークル、必ずいただく

    Clearly, ビークル will be taken by force from the owners, but the speaker still presents the future robbing as if the "vehicle" would be (kindly) given to him. Does it have something to do with "causing an incovenience"? I just recall phrases with ~させてもらう in similar contexts (involving someone without them even knowingit, like borrowing their things without their permission and so on).

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